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Vaccine. 2009 Nov 12;27(48):6662-8. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2009.08.095. Epub 2009 Sep 9.

First data on Eurasian wild boar response to oral immunization with BCG and challenge with a Mycobacterium bovis field strain.

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Instituto de Investigación en Recursos Cinegéticos IREC, Ronda de Toledo s.n., 13071 Ciudad Real, Spain.


The Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) is considered a reservoir for bovine tuberculosis (bTB) caused by Mycobacterium bovis and closely related members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in south-central Spain. The vaccination of wildlife with BCG offers an alternative to culling and to movement restriction for the control of bTB among wildlife reservoirs. In this study, we hypothesized that oral BCG immunization of wild boar would affect the expression of immunoregulatory genes and confer protection against M. bovis. Three groups were used to describe the infection, pathological findings and gene expression profiles in wild boar: BCG-vaccinated and M. bovis-challenged (vaccinated challenged group; N=6), non-vaccinated and M. bovis-challenged (non-vaccinated challenged group; N=4), and non-vaccinated and mock-infected (control group; N=2) animals. M. bovis was isolated from 50% (3/6) and 75% (3/4) of vaccinated challenged and non-vaccinated challenged animals, respectively. All four wild boar from the non-vaccinated challenged group developed bTB-compatible lesions 114 days after challenge. In contrast, only 50% of vaccinated challenged wild boar developed lesions. The PBMC mRNA levels of IL4, RANTES, C3, IFN-gamma and methylmalonyl-CoA mutase (MUT) were analyzed at several days post-vaccination (dpi). When vaccinated challenged animals were compared to controls, all five genes were significantly upregulated at the time of M. bovis infection at 186dpi but IFN-gamma levels were also upregulated at 11 and 46dpi. The C3 and MUT mRNA levels were higher at 46dpi, and 11 and 186dpi, respectively, in vaccinated protected wild boar when compared to non-vaccinated challenged animals. At the end of the experiment (300dpi), the mRNA levels of selected genes were lower in non-vaccinated challenged animals when compared to control wild boar. Exposing wild boar to a dose of 10(4)cfu of M. bovis by the oropharyngeal route is an adequate protocol to produce an infection model in this species. Our results suggested that oral BCG immunization of wild boar results in the upregulation of immunoregulatory genes that may be associated with protective response to M. bovis infection in this species. More studies on vaccine efficacy, delivery, and safety will be needed to confirm if oral vaccination with BCG could be used in bTB control programs for reducing M. bovis infection and clinical disease in wild boar.

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